In the face of unending Democratic attacks, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign's message is this: this is as bad as it gets.
Under fire for his record at Bain and his failure to release more than two years of tax returns, and as his own message has skipped ineffectually from one attack on Obama to the next, polling for Obama has only worsened.
A host of recent swing state surveys have the general election tightening — just this morning, Romney pulled even with Obama in Virginia according to a Quinnipiac University poll, coming back from an eight-point deficit in March.
A senior Romney aide said never again this cycle would Romney be outspent by the Obama campaign by a more than two to one margin (a ratio that conveniently leaves out the pro-Romney super PACs flooding the airwaves on the Republican's behalf). And as the Romney campaign puts more money into TV, aides are confident they will go from all tied up to Romney leading.
"If throwing the kitchen sink at Gov. Romney while leveraging a two-to-one ad-spending advantage doesn’t move numbers for the President, that’s got to tell you something about the state of the electorate," Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said in a memo distributed to reporters earlier this week. "Voters are frustrated with President Obama’s failure to keep his promises from the 2008 campaign and don’t truly believe the next four years will be any different from the last three and a half."
The Romney campaign also hawked yesterday's New York Times / CBS New poll showing troubles for Obama on the economy — numbers that have only worsened for the president.
But the Romney campaign hasn't addressed why its own message hasn't moved the dials their way — a reflection of how they see this election as a referendum on Obama. If they can bring up Obama's negatives, and the slow recovery continues to erode public perception of his handling of the economy, Romney's team believes voters will have nowhere else to go.